After a two-week hiatus, the 2023 British F4 Esports Championship returned to the leafy Oulton Park circuit for another double-header of premier open-wheel esports action.
Heading into Round 4, Peter Berryman and Luke McKeown were the drivers in form, with Berryman taking a double victory at Donington Park and McKeown getting his season back on track with a win and a third place at Snetterton.
This led to their Stormforce Racing ART team enjoying a huge advantage in the teams’ championship, with the rest of the pack – including Kimura Racing’s Matt Caruana and JHR by 29 eSports’ Gordie Mutch looking to get on terms in Round 4.
However, Berryman seized the initiative in qualifying, setting the fastest lap time. Beside him on the front row would sit Gordie Mutch, with Stanley Deslandes in third, no doubt eager to put his Snetterton final lap woes behind him.
Caruana was fourth and McKeown fifth, with Guild Esports’ Remy Gilbert looking to improve upon a disappointing Round 3 points haul.
Off the line, Berryman held a narrow advantage over Mutch in second, with Caruana running alongside Deslandes through Old Hall Corner. Deslandes held off the advances of the Kimura driver through Cascades, which allowed McKeown through into fourth.
The top five settled into a nose-to-tail rhythm, working well together to pull a three-second gap on sixth-placed Gilbert. The lull in the action didn’t last long, as McKeown ran deep into Knickerbrook, allowing Caruana an opportunity to put pressure on the ART driver, eventually sealing the move through Old Hall.
On the final lap, Caruana launched an attack on JHR by 29 eSports’ Deslandes for third on the outside of Turn 1. Deslandes ran Caruana all the way off-track to hold onto the position, crossing the line with a hard-fought, if contentious, podium.
Berryman cruised home to take another win with Mutch close behind, making it a double podium for the JHR by 29 eSports squad.
The reverse grid draw saw the top five from Race 1 reversed. Luke McKeown sat on pole position, eager to extend Stormforce Racing ART’s championship lead.
If Race 1 was a slightly tepid battle of wits Race 2 was a full-on punch-up in comparison, as McKeown and Caruana battled hard for the lead in the early stages. They were shadowed by a gaggle of five cars behind, all within touching distance of the lead.
The lead battle came to a head soon after, with Caruana going for a spin at Lodge after apparent contact with McKeown. It was a strange incident – possibly netcode induced – as both McKeown and Caruana gave each other space, but Caruana was effectively now out of points-scoring contention.
Visibly rattled after this unfortunate incident, Caruana would exit the race late on thanks to a bizarre piece of retaliatory driving, all but ending his hopes of a title charge.
McKeown held the lead still, with JHR team-mates Mutch and Deslandes in close quarters. Berryman sat in fourth, with Williams Esports’ Moreno Sirica maintaining a watching brief.
It was McKeown who held fast, however, taking his second win in four races and moving himself up into third in the drivers’ championship.
His team-mate Berryman finished fourth to cement his position at the top of the standings, with second-placed Gordie Mutch emerging from Round 4 as the Northern Irishman’s closest challenger, thanks to a double podium.
Stanley Deslandes put his Snetterton fuel woes behind him with a brace of third-place finishes, helping JHR by 29 eSports into a clear second position in the teams’ standings.
UK FF1600 Esports Cup, Round 4
Dominant championship leader Henry Moore’s run of pole positions came to an end in qualifying at Oulton Park as he could only muster fourth on the grid. His biggest rival this season, Dan Amor, took advantage by snatching pole position from Jason Cooper.
By half distance the irrepressible Moore made his way into the lead of the race, benefiting from Cooper and Amor getting together on the exit of Cascades. A thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle took place between Moore and Amor, with Amor edging it in the final laps, winning by two-tenths of a second.
The reverse grid draw wasn’t kind to Amor, however, as he started well down in tenth position, with William Hope heading the field.
The main flashpoint of the race occurred with 10 minutes to go, as both Moore and Amor sliced their way through the pack. Amor dived up the inside of Jason Cooper at Druids Corner, cannoning into Isaac Phelps and allowing Moore through into fourth position.
Up front, William Hope was battling with Ronnie Smith and Ed Hope for victory, with Moore zeroing in. Dramatically, Moore had worked his way into contention for the lead, and on the final lap battled side-by-side with Smith into Lodge.
It wasn’t enough, however, and Smith took his first win of the season as a result. Moore could console himself with an eighth straight podium and a convincing championship lead heading into the second half of the championship.
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 4 Oulton Park Race 1 results
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, +0.171s
- Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, +1.829s
- Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, +2.316s
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, +6.129s
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 4 Oulton Park Race 2 results
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, + 0.123s
- Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, +0.325s
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, +0.773s
- Moreno Sirica, Williams Esports, +1.408s
Driver standings after Round 4
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, 127 points
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSport, 98 points
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, 89 points
- Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, 85 points
- Remy Gilbert, GUILD Racing, 66 points
- Moreno Sirica, Williams Esports, 53 points
- Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, 51 points
- Josh Lad, Williams Esports, 47 points
- Josh Poulain, FreeM UK, 44 points
- Lucas Müller, Dörr Esports, 37 points
Team standings after Round 4
- Stormforce Racing ART, 216 points
- JHR by 29 eSports, 149 points
- Williams Esports, 100 points
- Kimura Racing, 88 points
- GUILD Racing, 66 points
Calendar: British F4 Esports Championship 2023
Media Day, Silverstone National, 20th September Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, 27th September Round 2, Donington National, 4th October Round 3, Snetterton 300, 11th October Round 4, Oulton Park International, 25th October
- Round 5, Silverstone GP, 8th November
- Round 6, Knockhill, 15th November
- Round 7, Donington GP, 22nd November
- Round 8, Brands Hatch GP, 29th November
Images courtesy of Rhys Caryl / RC Sim Photography